REI Co-op Screen House Review
Cons: Fixed floor bases, not very stable, no guy-lines
Manufacturer: REI Co-op
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Offering 100 square feet of floor space and 7 feet of clearance, this tent is large enough to protect up to six people from the elements and insects. The tent fits over a 10 ft picnic table at a campsite with extra room on the sides. The light-colored ceiling creates a brighter atmosphere, making it feel larger than it is. Conversely, it doesn't create a very dark, cool shade. The specs come in at 120" by 120" with a peak height of 84".
The updated screen doors are offset on opposing sides, opening only half of the panel. This is good to keep bugs out but makes getting in and out of the tent a bit more tricky when placed over a picnic table. The doors are held open with only one loop hook toward the top, making the excess fabric at the bottom hard to secure and a tripping hazard.
Aside from the floor perimeter to prohibit bugs from getting in from the bottom, this tent has two organization pockets for small items. These are great for headlamps, bug spray, sunscreen, etc.
Ease of Setup
Due to the low weight of this tent and the familiar pole system, this tent is relatively easy to set up. Although able to be erected by one person, the recommended two people can set this tent up in approximately 8 minutes. The collapsible aluminum poles are slipped into the fabric sheath in two places and connect to the four corners with a ringlet making it an easy six pole process. Set up is very intuitive if you have experience setting up tents previously. Be aware; if you set the tent up before placing it over the picnic table, you will need help moving it around the table. Being so lightweight, substantial, and without a rigid frame, it is very flimsy and hard to lift alone.
When erect, this shelter feels unstable as the wind picks up, and the potential to collapse under stiff gusts of wind feels quite possible. The tent comes with six stakes to secure the corners and edges, but it does not come with guy-lines. Six stakes aren't a lot of anchoring protection for a lightweight and large canopy. There aren't any easy attachment points for guy-lines either if you wanted to purchase some third-party ones. Based on the fact that it relies on thin aluminum poles for its structure, we would not recommend keeping this shelter out of any wind moderate or stronger. It has quite a bit of surface area compared to its relatively thin poles and collapses in the wind very easily. Be sure it is staked in well and keep an eye on it if winds increase. During testing, we witnessed corners collapsing in with the potential for poles to bend.
The REI Screen House has a familiar, camping tent-like design. The poles are external, which subjects them to potential damage or bending. However, this shelter does come with a splint in case one of the poles snaps, which we think is a great addition. The fabric is ripstop nylon, which is durable and blocks the sun as well as light rain. The screen material is small enough to keep no-see-ums out while allowing for decent airflow throughout.
At 12.3 lbs, this tent is much easier to transport than the other big, heavy, and clunky camping canopies we have tested. The carrying bag has a shoulder strap instead of the two carrying handles. This is easier for shorter transportation times, but if carrying other things as well, we found the strap to be quite uncomfortable for long distances. Since it packs down to be around 29" long, just about anyone can manage it. Being this small, this shelter won't take up too much room in storage or in your car while not using.
The Screen House is best used for families or groups of up to six people, providing shelter over picnic tables in fair weather. This shelter will protect from bugs as well as light, wind, and rainy drizzle. Also, the lightweight and easy setup make this a good tent for people of all experience levels. Weighing relatively little, this shelter is recommended for car camping or for setup with a short hike in. If the weather is windy, be advised that this shelter will not stand up very well.
This camping canopy isn't the most expensive, but we aren't fully convinced that it's a high-value product. If you're concerned about storage and weight, this may be the tent for you. However, for durability, longevity, and stability, we would recommend another model.
Made for car camping, this tent is lightweight, easy to set up, and protects against sun and bugs. It is relatively easy to place over picnic tables and offers enough space to fit six people comfortably. Due to its low weight, exterior aluminum poles, and lack of guy-lines, it doesn't feel very stable. Its fixed base and unsecured doors are a potential tripping hazard. In all, this camping canopy might suffice for your needs on a few trips by keeping critters out of your face and food, but it probably won't be your favorite piece of gear.
— Michael Wood and Michelle Galinak